For many young writers, an empty page is intimidating. Sitting a child down and asking them to write a story can seem like an impossible task, especially for the hesitant writer. I want my children to view a blank piece of paper and see an opportunity. I view an empty page the same way an artist views a canvas or a baker views a pan….it’s just waiting to be filled. But how do we nurture and develop a love of creative writing? Plopping a notebook in front of a child and demanding that they write will not the next Hemingway make. As parents, we need to find a way to inspire creative thinking without frustrating or overwhelming our young writer. A simple way to nurture creative writing is through a writer’s notebook.
Just three to five minutes of daily writing practice will yield increases in creativity, interest, and skill. Every day, give your child a small, open-ended writing task. Keep the tasks FUN, interesting, and open to creativity and child-like interpretation. Don’t allow your expectations to dampen your child’s efforts. Accept their writing at face value. Celebrate their ideas. Maintain the rule that there are no wrong answers in creative writing. Allow your child the freedom to express their ideas on the page.
Grab a spiral notebook or lined journal. Adding a few personalized touches with stickers or scrapbooking paper may increase your child’s interest, and set apart this activity as something special. Vary the writing tasks to keep things fresh and interesting. Intermix imaginative tasks with the everyday. Good creative writers can write about what they know, and can also draw upon their imagination. Here are a few ideas to get you and your budding author started.
Write a letter to your child. Ask questions. Talk about your day.Have your child respond in a letter. (These precious letters will become a cherished keepsake!)
Build a connection with your child as you model solid writing.
Ask your child to make a list.
What do you want for Christmas?
If you were in charge of grocery shopping, what would you buy?
Name five reasons why you love your brother.
The possibilities are endless. Children who enjoy structure will like list-making.
Provide your child with a creative story prompt. Write a few sentences that will prompt your child to finish a story.
The doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I noticed a giant package had been delivered. I couldn’t wait to open the box. When I lifted the lid, I saw…
I never expected I’d be chasing a dragon.
Sometimes a small prompt is all a child needs to get their creative juices flowing. Don’t be concerned with length and don’t expect a particular storyline to emerge. There is no wrong way to finish a story.
Encourage adjectives to flow from your child’s pencil as you ask them to describe various things.
Mom’s chocolate chip cookies
Create a Recipe
Ask your child to dream up a recipe. Your child will feel empowered and grown-up, and you will likely get a good laugh at their interpretation.
Artistic parents can draw a picture or a simple sketch for their child to respond to. They may describe the picture, add to it, or use it to spark a story idea.
Remember that there are no wrong answers in creative writing. These exercises are about getting ideas on a page, not about fitting into a certain mold or standard. Your child will develop and strengthen their writing skills as you model good writing for them. Don’t fret over misspelled words and misplaced punctuation. Accept whatever your child puts on the page, and accept it with joy! Don’t allow the “rules” to break your child’s spirit. I have seen many potential writers give up in frustration over incorrectly formed letters and spelling mistakes. We want to nurture creativity, inspiration, and idea formation. Let their responses flow freely. Encourage your writer. Watch them grow and develop over time, celebrating their progress along the way. Happy writing!